Welcome to Game Gear! This is MMORPG’s new monthly PC tech column where we’ll talk about everything that’s happened in the last month and get into conversations about what matter’s most. I’m Chris, MMORPG’s new Hardware Editor. I’ve been covering games and technology since 2008. You might know me from the many hardware reviews I’ve written, the RPG Files column, or even the official Game On podcast. I’m exciting to be leading the charge on this side of the site and to have an official place to talk about PC gaming tech outside of official reviews.
To kick things off, let’s get colorful. That’s right, we’re talking RGB, the latest trend in PC hardware. I’s not going anywhere and that’s a very good thing.
If you’ve followed the major tech conferences the last two years, you’ve probably noticed that every new piece of kit glows like a rainbow. The PC peripheral industry has discovered RGB lighting and has made it its mission to make everything shine in 16.1M colors of customizable glory. It started with keyboards and mice and has expanded into nearly every part of PC building. Cases, motherboards, fans, mouse pads, graphics cards… heck, the SSD I reviewed from ZOTAC has an RGB back panel. If CES and Computex are any indication, the text thing we’re going to see are LED enabled desk chairs.
A lot of people aren’t a fan of the RGB revolution and, even though I love it, I understand why. The truth is, before I picked up my Corsair K70 RGB, I didn’t get it either. RGB devices are usually at least twenty dollars more expensive when I’m sure the LEDs themselves cost pennies on the dollar. Another common refrain from critics is that they don’t want to be distracted by flashy lights going off underneath them. People who haven’t done their research also like to claim that paying extra money for pure looks is a waste of money. This last point only half true, by the way.
To those points, I think manufacturers themselves are to mostly to blame. Every single time these peripherals are shown off it’s with some kind of rainbow pattern, cycling and spinning away with bright distracting lights. People worried about being distracted by lighting are exactly right when they see things like this; the spinning rainbows are distracting. They also look great in demos, which is why they constantly get shown off. What often gets lost in translation is how cool these peripherals can be when they’re not acting like unicorn simulators.
Let’s take desktop hardware. Keyboards, mice, mousepads. RGB peripherals here turn your desk into a showcase. Along with a nice case, you can affordably put together a setup that looks downright gorgeous. RGB lets you theme your setup. With my last PC, I set all three of these peripherals to glow red with orange accents. My keyboard slightly pulsed giving my desk a fiery, lava like vibe. With my new build, I switched everything green, changed how the lights pulsed and shift, and now I have a corrosive, acid vibe going on. Nptj are subtle, look great, and aren’t flashing like a Saturday morning cartoon. In fact, most people I know who use RGB peripherals switch out of the rainbow pretty fast.
Now, my case doesn’t have a side panel, but customizable LEDs inside the case are quickly become a staple of gaming branded gear and it’s only a matter of clicks sync everything. Heck, if you buy all of your gear from the same manufacturer, you can easily sync the effects and orchestrate some really cool aesthetics, flashy or subtle.
A demonstration of some admittedly flashy profiles I’ve accumulated. I’m using a customized version of this profile.
In years past, the only way this would have been possible was in buying separate LED strips and light-up fans for every separate color. Even just changing the color of your case fans can easily cost over $50 today. Without RGB, changing the lighting of everything? Between $200-300. What RGB critics miss when they focus so much on price is that you’re not just paying for fancy colors, you’re paying for freedom.
And to close, RGB isn’t all about flash, either! In the case of keyboards and mice, actual function can be programmed into that lighting. When I fire macros off on my Corsair K70 LUX, I can set the whole board to pulse when it’s completed. Both Razer and Steelseries have lighting systems that tie into game events, so when you’re low on health or ammo, or nab a headshot, their keyboards will show that in lighting. Virtually all of them can be customized out the ears to add real function to those schemes.
So, from skeptic to believer, I’m here to tell you that the RGB revolution is a good thing. You don’t have to buy in, but don’t get sucked into the hype that is the never ending stream of rainbows. Instead, think about how cool it is to change your desk top, download new themes and profiles, and to really customize the look of your gaming entire setup and to be able to do that easily without buying extra equipment. That’s what RGB is about and why it’s here to stay.